The Woman in White is a very engaging Victorian mystery by Wilkie Collins. I listened to an audio version dramatized by Beverley Cooper and was hooked. I wanted to listen to it constantly to find out what happened. Good thing I was able to make it to my meeting today instead of sitting in the car trying to finish the book.
The novel starts with a bang when Walter Hartright is on his way to his new commission as an art teacher when he runs into a mysterious woman dressed from head to toe in white. He helps her to escape to London only to find out later that she had in fact just escaped from a lunatic asylum. Walter arrives at his new post at Limmeridge Hall and meets his new students, half-sisters Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie. Laura is a beautiful heiress. Walter and Laura soon fall in love. Unfortunately, Laura is betrothed to another, Sir Percival Glyde. She promised her father on his death bed that she would marry Sir Percival. With misgivings, Laura marries Sir Percival and soon finds out the truth about the mysterious woman in white. I will not say more on the plot except that it is a thrilling read!
I liked the format of the book. It gave the story from multiple sources and view points, which I read that Collins used because of his legal training. This novel is also one of the first detective stories as Walter Hartright tries to solve the mystery of the woman in white and of what happened to Laura Fairlie.
I also loved the forthright Marian Halcombe, the “ugly,” but sharp half-sister of Laura. She is a great character and I found her more interesting than Laura who was slightly one-dimensional. I also liked the feminist aspects of the novel – it really points out the flaws in the laws during Victorian times when it came to women inheriting an estate.
Another interesting note is that as a young man, Collins had his own run in with a mysterious woman in white, who later became his mistress. I read this in the forward to my novel and was intrigued.